Public gets first look at GW Museum

The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for a sneak preview Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for a preview on Friday. Construction for the museum has cost the University about $33 million. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The GW Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time Friday, unveiling a winding staircase, four stories of gallery space, a library, a gift shop and an activity center.

But the roughly 400 visitors who had an exclusive tour found the museum’s galleries and exhibits empty. The University still needs to move in textiles, a collection of D.C. artifacts and thousands of pieces tied to GW’s history. The 46,000-square-foot museum, GW’s first ever, is slated to open this winter after almost two years of construction that cost the University about $33 million.

GW raised some of the funds in 2011 by partnering with the Textile Museum and the Albert H. Small Washingtonian collection of D.C. history. Fundraising that year included a $25 million gift for the museum, a record for GW at the time.

The museum is also collaborating with departments like the museum studies program, which will bring students and professors to its galleries.

Heather Olsen, a graduate student in the program and an intern at the Textile Museum, said she had pitched ideas for a GW Museum fundraising campaign in class.

“I worked on how to create a planned giving strategy that would reach out to Textile Museum members and donors as well as alumni of the University and merge those two very distinct groups,” she said.

Olsen said the museum fundraising class helped her land an internship with GW Museum’s development team.

“This affiliation with the Textile Museum has allowed the museum studies program to give students real life experiences,” Olsen said.

This post was updated June 7, 2014 to the reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the museum had denied visitors access to the galleries and exhibits Friday. The visitors did have access, though the rooms were empty. We regret this error.

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